Hopefully, you’ve read the cover article in the November issue of Inc. Magazine, “Inside the Mind of a Runaway CEO and the Adventures of the Staff He Left Behind”. This is the story of Infosurv making a critical transition from an entrepreneurial mode to a managerial mode, from an innovative online survey company to a somewhat more sophisticated marketing research company. As the leader of those “left behind” and a supporter of the “Runaway CEO”, I would like to take the opportunity express my appreciation to everyone involved and to fill in some of the blanks in the story.
First, I’d like to congratulate Jared Heyman and everyone at Infosurv! The sabbatical was a rousing success for everyone; for Jared, for me personally, for the leadership and staff of Infosurv, and for our clients.
Jared fulfilled a lifelong dream to travel, see the world, and think about the next chapter in his life and career. He had the courage and confidence to completely let go and detach from the day-to-day aspects of the business, while keeping in touch with the strategic direction and growth of the company.
Personally, I attained a career milestone of running a research company and learning the joys and trials of “ownership”. I didn’t accomplish or experience this opportunity alone, however. The staff at Infosurv got the chance for greater input and determination in their day-to-day work. The challenges and freedom to “own” their work has resulted in happier, more engaged employees, increased revenues, and a closer connection within our team. We all feel a deeper affiliation to our clients, our company and to one another. I’d like to recognize the members of the Leadership Team, Kyle Burnam, and Kevin Wilensky, for their critical contribution to planning and management of the company. My deep appreciation goes out to the entire staff at Infosurv who consistently go above and beyond to make our projects successful and our clients happy. And, I’d also like to recognize and thank our clients, both new and existing, for having the confidence and trust to work with Infosurv.
At the beginning of Jared’s sabbatical, we were all a little apprehensive. Would Jared truly let us manage the company without interference? Would we be successful in growing the company as we all expected? How will the employees react to the change?
As Jared’s sabbatical progressed, the Leadership Team grew in confidence and boldness. Instead of playing it safe and running the company under the status quo, we took risks, continued to innovate and began a process of corporate evolution. Sure, everything wasn’t always smooth. We had to overcome some obstacles and problems, and sometimes there were differences in how we made decisions that led to disagreements between Jared and the Leadership Team. But in the end, Jared and our management team always ended up in synch and happy with the results.
So, what can be learned from this experience? Should CEO’s at small businesses across the country take off as Jared did and leave their companies in the hands of their staff? Well, if they do, they had better make sure that they follow Jared’s prescription for preparation and have assembled a staff in which they have great confidence. But, I think that the major learning is that if you have a dream, whether it is Jared’s to take a year off to travel and see the world, or mine to take the reins of a research company and make it successful, that you have to prepare, propel, and persist to follow that dream.
I’d also like to thank Amy Barrett and all of the staff of Inc. Magazine for their professionalism and rigor in getting the story from us without being overly disruptive or nosey. It is difficult to adequately cover all of the events and intricacies of a year-long experience, especially when you’re not present throughout the experience. Some events get blown a little out of perspective and some get totally missed. But Amy and the editors at Inc. have done a good job of capturing the critical transition in the lives and times of Infosurv.
Finally, I will be forever grateful that Jared provided me and the rest of the Infosurv Team with this opportunity and hope to continue to drive Infosurv to greater success and growth. As professional market researchers, we love what we do. We love working with our clients to provide them with the information to support their business decisions and be successful. We love finding innovative research methods to gain efficiency and effectiveness.
If you want to learn more about our adventures or how Infosurv can help your business, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at: [email protected] or 404-846-6873.